Think of Switzerland, and what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Chocolate? Fondue? Yodeling? While the country does have a great reputation for being home to all three, there’s much more to Switzerland than first meets the eye. There’s a reason this place is called the Playground of Europe!
Switzerland’s scenery will leave you totally speechless. From dominating mountains that reach for the sky to sparkling lakes that shine brighter than a diamond, it’s almost as if this country was designed by an artist. The spectacular landscape makes Switzerland an excellent place for outdoor sports.
Winter is packed full of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. If that’s not your style, you can get plenty of exercise shopping at Christmas markets and cafe-hopping for rich and creamy hot chocolate.
Summer invites you to get outside and explore, with countless chances for walking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, swimming, kayaking, and road-tripping. If you’re not the outdoorsy type, you’ll have plenty of fun exploring the country’s castles, galleries, museums, and festivals. Whatever you’re into, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Switzerland!
With such a great choice of things to see and do, you may not know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Switzerland. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Switzerland bucket list, and you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time exploring the Playground of Europe.
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25 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Switzerland
1. Have Fun on Lake Zurich
One of the top Switzerland attractions is Lake Zurich, which you’ve got to check out while you’re in the capital. This shimmering body of water is lined with a vast choice of lush, green parks and bustling cafe-lined promenades. This place always has a lively atmosphere and is teeming with people enjoying the sunshine, jogging, having picnics, and swimming.
Lake Zurich is absolutely huge, and one of the best ways to fully appreciate its beauty is to take a cruise across it. When you get out on the water, you’ll have incredible views of the dominating Glarus Alps.
If you’d rather stay on dry land, walk around the lake until you come upon Zurichorn Park. A gorgeous green space built for the National Exhibition in 1939, this spot is home to a great restaurant, a gorgeous Chinese garden, and a jetty with a boat that runs between the National Museum and the park.
2. Walk Along a 700-Year-Old Bridge
If you’re looking for must-do things in Switzerland, the biggest attraction in the charming city of Lucerne is definitely worth checking out. Kapellbrücke, also known as Chapel Bridge, is a spectacular covered wooden bridge that stretches diagonally across the Reuss River. It was constructed in 1333 and, while it may be just a bridge, it’s a fascinating thing to see!
Not only is Kapellbrücke a piece of art itself, but it’s also home to a number of original paintings. As you walk along it, take a look at the wooden rafters, and you’ll see over 100 remarkable pictures of scenes inspired by the city.
There are some paintings depicting important historical events that happened in Lucerne, while others show saints performing miracles. It’s like walking through a fancy art gallery – and it’s free!
A devastating fire damaged most of the bridge in 1993. But it’s such a popular and important part of the city that huge efforts were made to restore it back to its former glory.
3. Wander Through One of Europe’s Best Art Galleries at Kunsthaus Zurich
For some of the best sights in Switzerland, spend the day at Kunsthaus Zurich. This spectacular art museum guards one of the most important art collections in Switzerland and is guaranteed to captivate your imagination.
Wander through the exhibitions, and you’ll come across works of art from the 13th century all the way up to today. The permanent displays feature the greatest classical modernist art collection in Zurich, as well as the largest Munch collection outside of Norway.
Whether or not you consider yourself an art lover, you’re sure to recognize some of the most iconic pieces by Picasso and Monet. In total, Kunsthaus Zurich is home to around 4,000 sculptures and paintings, plus 95,000 drawings and prints that cover almost a millennium.
To encourage everyone to take an interest, the art gallery hosts temporary exhibits designed to attract people who aren’t really into art. These enigmatic displays change all the time, but they’re guaranteed to leave you with plenty to think about!
4. Discover the Secrets of Science at CERN
Switzerland is home to the biggest particle physics lab in the world – CERN. Located in Geneva, the headquarters for the European Organization of Nuclear Research is one of the coolest things to do in Switzerland, whether or not you’re a fan of physics.
The best way to see everything CERN has to offer is to sign up for one of the guided tours. Suitable for adults and kids, the organized visits take you on a journey through the giant lab and help you understand the mind-bending experiments and projects being carried out in a way that’s easy to follow.
CERN’s museum exhibitions are just as fascinating. Universe of Particles teaches you all about the major physics questions CERN is currently attempting to find the answers to and what that means for the future. Microcosm invites you to take a look behind the curtain and see exactly what CERN is up to.
The best part is that both museums are free!
5. See Hundreds Of Hot Air Balloons At The International Balloon Festival
The International Balloon Festival should be at the top of your list of things to do in Switzerland. Held each year at the Château-d’Oex in January, this amazing event sees pilots from all over the world travel to Switzerland for the chance to show off their spectacular hot air balloons.
Over the course of nine days, the sky is filled with every type of hot air balloon you could imagine, from standard hot air balloons to quirky hot air balloons designed to look like animals, cartoon characters, and popular figures. The colorful balloons look incredible against the snowy white ground and the clear blue sky. You could easily fill your phone’s memory with pictures!
As well as the hot air balloon displays, there’s loads of other cool stuff going on throughout the festival. Check out the program, and you’ll discover air shows, mini hot air balloon demonstrations, flying competitions, helicopter rides, family-friendly workshops, and hot air balloon flights.
6. Climb to the Top of the Grossmunster
One of Zurich’s most iconic landmarks, the Grossmunster is an ancient church that is said to have been built on the graves of Felix and Regula, the city’s patron saints. Originally a monastic church, work on the Grossmunster first began in the 12th century, and it wasn’t until the 13th century that it was finally complete.
With its vibrant red spire and two prominent towers that reach into the sky, the Romanesque church looks impressive from the outside. But for the very best views, step inside the church and climb the steps to the top of one of the towers. From up here, you can see for miles all across the city.
If you’d like to see more of the church, visit the crypt. The oldest part of the building, the crypt is an original piece of the structure and features faded frescoes created by Hands Leu the Elder in the 1400s.
7. Fall In Love With Creamy Swiss Fondue
When you need a break from all the Switzerland sightseeing, find a local restaurant and order a piping hot cauldron of cheese fondue. Because this dish is so popular throughout the country, you’ll find all kinds of variations of this cheesy classic available.
In winter, you’ll discover inviting pop-up fondue restaurants all over the country. But that’s not the only place you can indulge in this comfort food. You’ll also find this dish served in casual and formal restaurants, on boat trips, and even as part of eTukTuk fondue tours!
Classic Swiss fondue is made from melted cheese. Sometimes two different kinds of cheeses are combined (usually Emmental and Gruyere) to make fondue. Some chefs go the extra mile and use a blend of multiple varieties of cheese for a unique flavor.
However many different types of cheese go into your fondue, you always get the chance to enjoy it plain or spiced up with chili peppers and peppercorns!
8. See Million-Year-Old Fossils at Gletschergarten
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Switzerland, stop by Gletschergarten in Lucerne for the chance to see some of the oldest relics you’ll ever see in your life. Known as the Glacier Garden in English, this one-of-a-kind attraction is home to a number of stunning natural wonders that date back to the Ice Age.
Take a look around, and you’ll discover glacier-polished rocks and kettle basins that are more than 20,000 years old. But the stars of the show are the fossils, some of which are over 20 million years old!
The climate change exhibits are also worth checking out. You can see how badly it’s affecting the planet and what our world will look like in the future if things stay the same. One of the other interesting displays features a replica of an early climbers’ hut. There’s also a lookout tour that you can climb up and check out, just like if you were an explorer.
Although it doesn’t really follow the museum’s theme, there’s also a mirror maze which is loads of fun!
9. Check Out Fantastic Marionettes at the Bellerive Museum
Stop by the Bellerive Museum, and you’ll discover one of the most unique things to do in Switzerland. This incredible gallery is brimming with all kinds of exhibits dedicated to applied arts. A great place to visit if you think you’re not a fan of art, this museum explores a number of thought-provoking topics and themes while moving harmoniously between design and art throughout the centuries.
One of the many highlights of the Bellerive Museum is the vast collection of string puppets. The art gallery is home to every single one of the marionettes from the Swiss Puppet Theater between 1918 and 1935, as well as the Zurich Puppet Theater between 1942 and 1963. Look closely, and you’ll discover just how intricate the hand-painted details are.
You’ll find many pieces from the Art Nouveau era throughout the rest of the gallery, with a great emphasis on beautiful ceramics. Other displays are dedicated to textiles, modern ceramics, and historical musical instruments, with more than 200 well-preserved examples.
10. Check Out 100+ Concerts at Paléo Festival Nyon
No matter how many music festivals you’ve been to, you’ve never been to a festival quite like Paléo Festival Nyon. Held each year in July, this high-octane festival boasts literally hundreds of concerts that take place across a single week.
What started out as a modest folk festival in 1976 has since grown into one of the biggest, best, and most popular events in all of Switzerland. During this week-long extravaganza, people travel from all over the world to listen to captivating music, see mesmerizing lights, and dance in a sea of music lovers.
Like all music festivals, the lineup changes every year. But to give you an idea of what you can expect, some of the biggest names to have taken to the stage include KISS, Sting, DJ Snake, Stromae, and PNL. There’s a fantastic mix of famous international artists and local Swiss artists, giving you the chance to hear your favorite songs as well as discover new groups.
11. Gaze at the Most Powerful Waterfall in Europe
Think of countries with waterfalls, and Switzerland is unlikely to pop into your mind. But the Playground of Europe is actually home to a spectacular waterfall – the most powerful in Europe, in fact.
Hidden away in Schaffhausen, Rhine Falls (Rheinfall) is a staggering 500-feet-wide and is so powerful that fish aren’t able to swim up it. The only creatures that can swim through the current are eels. Bring some binoculars with you and see if you can spot one!
For the best experience, plan to visit Rhine Falls in June or July. At this time of year, the snow on the top of the surrounding mountains has almost completely melted, making the falls incredibly powerful and thunderous. Watching the water swell and crash down 75 feet over a Jurassic limestone cliff is phenomenal.
You’ll find viewing platforms on either side of the waterfalls. If you want to get a closer look, you can sign up for a boat trip and feel the cool spray of the water on your face.
12. Treat Your Taste Buds at the Lindt Home of Chocolate
Switzerland is known for having magnificent chocolate, and you’ll find some of the very best inside the Lindt Home of Chocolate. This drool-worthy interactive museum boasts delicious exhibits you won’t find anywhere else, such as a gigantic 30-feet-high chocolate fountain. It’s also home to the largest Lindt chocolate store on the planet.
One of the best parts of this dream-come-true museum is the Lindt Chocolateria, where you can get involved and make your own chocolate. Here you can get creative and make gourmet chocolate bars before topping them with yummy extras and taking them home to enjoy. If you want to take things further, you can also make elegant chocolate figurines and fancy chocolate lollipops.
If you’re not into the workshops, there are still loads of things to do. There are displays that tell the story of where chocolate came from and how beans are transformed into chocolate bars. Make sure you seek out the tasting section – you’re free to have as much as you like!
13. Step Back In Time at the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum
Also known as the Swiss National Museum, the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum definitely deserves a place on your list of Switzerland activities. This magnificent neo-Gothic castle-like complex is home to a vast museum that showcases the fascinating cultural history of Switzerland.
Home to the most important collection of Swiss cultural and historic artifacts, the museum boasts more than 820,000 individual items, some of which go as far back as prehistoric times.
One of the most fascinating displays is the archeological exhibit. Here you can admire remarkable pieces that were discovered in Switzerland sometime between 100,000 BCE and 800 CE. Among the finest and best-preserved in Europe, the collection includes crafts, carriages, scientific tools, clocks, watches, costumes, jewelry, and musical instruments, among many other intriguing items.
Another section definitely worth checking out is the medieval wall paintings, as is the complication of dazzling stained glass windows.
14. See All Kinds of Native Wildlife In the Swiss National Park
The oldest reserve in the Alps, the Swiss National Park is a great place to go when you need a break from Switzerland’s bustling cities. Founded in 1914, the national park is right on the Swiss-Italian border and covers more than a whopping 65 square miles of outdoor space.
There’s a fantastic network of trails that you can walk, hike, or cycle along. Make sure you stick to the path. Huge efforts are being made to protect the natural ecosystem of the area, and it’s forbidden to explore beyond the paths.
During summer, the park boasts verdant grass, colorful flowers, and bubbling rivers. In the winter months, the scenery becomes even more dramatic as the whole place is covered in a thick layer of glistening snow. While you may not be able to go hiking during winter, the walking trails are transformed into cross-country skiing trails, so you can still have a great time.
More than 5,000 species of animals call the park home. Keep an eye out, and you may spot a fox, ibex, chamois, red deer, or marmot.
15. Explore the Enchanting Streets of Zurich’s Altstadt
Visiting Zurich is one of the must-do things in Switzerland. While you’re there, you’ve got to take a walk around Altstadt. The name of Zurich’s Old Town, Altstadt is overflowing with dramatic medieval houses, monumental town halls constructed during the Renaissance, and a never-ending number of winding lines that invite you on an adventure.
This part of the city is home to a number of popular landmarks, such as the Grossmunster double towers and Peterskirche (Peter’s Church), which is well-known for having the biggest clock face in Europe. Whether you make an itinerary of things to see or you just wander around and see where you end up, this is one of the top things to do in Switzerland.
Because Altstadt is so popular, it is full of superb places to eat and drink. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the mood for some healthy bircher muesli for breakfast, traditional fondue for lunch, indulgent Älplermagronen for dinner, or a glass of wine to relax after a long day – you’ll find just what you’re craving right here.
16. Party at the Biggest Carnival In Switzerland at Basler Fasnacht
If you’re planning on traveling around Switzerland at the end of February or the beginning of March, you’ve got to check out Basler Fasnacht. Basel’s annual Carnival takes place at the end of spring each year, and this lively event is like a huge street party that no one wants to end.
Basler Fasnacht gives you an amazing opportunity to see Switzerland’s traditions and culture in full swing. As well as the street parades and people dressed in all kinds of whacky costumes that you’d expect from any Carnival event, the celebration in Basel is special because it introduces local heritage into the program.
Check out the lineup of the event, and you’ll discover a great mix of activities and entertainment suitable for everyone. From 4 am music concerts in the dark and satirical songs that focus on major current events to captivating lantern displays and children’s parades that the littlest ones can join in with, there’s absolutely loads going on.
17. Discover Your Inner Love of Soccer at the FIFA Museum
Spending a few hours at the FIFA Museum is undoubtedly one of the coolest things to do in Switzerland. Soccer (known as football throughout Europe) is the most popular sport in the world and is played in practically every country on the planet.
Even if you’re not a big fan of soccer or sports at all, it’s almost impossible not to be wowed by this huge museum that tells the story of FIFA (the world governing body of soccer) and the World Cup. Your immersive and interactive adventure begins with a huge video screen showing clips of people from around the world playing soccer.
One of the most interesting parts of the museum is the 42-foot-long chronological timeline that explains how the sport has grown and progressed over time. It also shows you which year each country joined FIFA and took part in the World Cup.
The biggest display is dedicated to the FIFA World Cup Gallery. Bursting with memorabilia and mementos of the FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup, there’s a huge amount to see. The highlight is the glistening World Cup Trophy which you can see up close, as well as a movie that plays the most memorable moments from World Cup Finals.
18. Find Comfort In Papet Vaudois
Papet Vaudois is a super simple yet incredibly delicious type of comfort food you’ll find throughout Switzerland – especially during the chilly winter months. Often served as a side dish, papet Vaudois is a combination of buttery leeks and fluffy potatoes that have been left to stew together for hours.
When all the ingredients are soft and tender, they’re roughly mashed together to become the best potatoes you’ve ever had in your life. The wonderful creaminess of the mashed potatoes and the subtle flavor of the leeks works so well together.
You’ll often find this veggie side dish as the bed for a thick and chunky Vaudoise sausage. This yummy type of sausage comes from the Vaudois region of Switzerland and is made from a combination of smoked pork and beef.
Make a reservation for Pinte Besson in Lausanne for some of the best papet Vaudois in Switzerland. This charming restaurant dishes up a huge plate of the Swiss classic that can easily feed two people.
19. Admire 360+ Animals From All Over the World at Zurich Zoo
For one of the most fun things to do in Switzerland, plan to spend the day at the Zurich Zoo. More than 360 different animals from all corners of the globe call this popular attraction home, and you can see them all in a single day.
One of the best things about the Zurich Zoo is that the animals live in specially-designed habitats that are as close to their natural environments as possible. Take a look around, and you’ll spot penguins swimming in icy Antarctic waters and snow leopards dozing on Himalayan rocks.
Even if you’re not keen on heights, you’ve got to do the canopy walk. This challenging walk takes you high above 3.2 acres of tropical rainforest. Keep an eye out, and you’ll spot all kinds of enchanting animals, such as flying foxes!
The Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park is one of our favorite parts of the zoo. Here you can witness an Asian elephant family play together and bond. They’ve got a fantastic multi-level outdoor complex to enjoy, complete with a swimming hole like they’d have in the wild in Thailand.
20. Cruise Across Lake Geneva
Switzerland is home to a number of dazzling lakes, and Lake Geneva has got to be one of the best. Check out the highlights of the city from a whole new perspective and take a boat trip across the lake!
If you haven’t got much time to spare, a standard one-hour Lake Geneva cruise is a great pick. This budget-friendly tour starts at Pierres du Niton and sails past a number of major landmarks, such as the United Nations and Jet d’Eau. You also get stunning views of the Swiss Alps and Mont Blanc.
For something a bit longer, pick an adventure that incorporates a river cruise into a full-day excursion. Tours will whisk you to the charming town of Annecy, fondly known as the Venice of the Alps, before returning to Geneva for a chance to explore the city and sail across the lake.
21. See One of the Highest Mountains In the Alps
The Matterhorn is one of the top Switzerland attractions, and it’s definitely a must-visit during your trip. One of the highest peaks in the Alps, the legendary mountain rises a staggering 14,692 feet into the sky and is known for its four faces, each of which lies in the direction of a compass point.
The first attempts at climbing the Matterhorn were tragically unsuccessful. In 1865, the first four climbers fell to their deaths during their descent. Today, thousands of experienced climbers tackle the challenge of successfully scaling the mountain. While climbing to the top of the mountain is best left to the experts, you can still enjoy its beauty from the ground.
The picturesque village of Zermatt lies at the foot of the Matterhorn. A fantastic place to spend a day, here you’ll find horse-drawn carriages, world-class restaurants, and quaint family-run lodges. Motorized vehicles are totally banned, making the village really peaceful.
22. Walk Through the Pages of a Fairytale In Niederdorf
Switzerland is brimming with beautiful places, and Niederdorf definitely deserves a place on your Switzerland bucket list. Surrounded by modern financial powerhouses, this neighborhood is overflowing with historic charm.
Boasting medieval squares, narrow streets, a flowing river, charming cafes, artistic boutiques, and independent restaurants, Niederdorf is a fantastic place to wander and simply soak up the atmosphere.
If you prefer to follow a plan, start your adventure by walking up Munstergasse street until you come to the Brunnenturm. This was once the headquarters of the Lombard moneychangers, way back in the 14th and 15th centuries. With stunning rooms decorated in a Renaissance style, Haus zum Napt (the house at number 6) is also definitely worth visiting.
Visit Spiegelgasse and take a look at number 17 to see the house that Lenin lived in over 100 years ago. Carry on walking along this street, and you’ll come upon Cabaret Voltaire, where Tristan Tzara and Hans Arp launched the Dada art movement in 1916.
23. Spend a Day Relaxing at Bains des Pâquis
Whichever time of year you’re visiting, one of the top things to do in Switzerland is to unwind at Bains des Pâquis.
These public baths are tucked away on the western shore of Lake Geneva and are hugely popular with the locals. Not only are they a fantastic place to get some exercise, but they’re also a hotspot for spending time with family, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the vibrancy of the city.
In summer, the paths provide you with a superb place to sunbathe on the pier, take a refreshing dip in the lake, and dig into a light lunch al fresco. During the hottest months, the baths even host classical music concerts and poetry recitals in the early morning.
Bains des Pâquis stays open in winter and offers a totally different experience. During the coldest months, the baths transform into a spa with a steam bath, sauna, and massage service.
24. Warm Up With Tartiflette
Switzerland can get incredibly cold in the winter. One of the best ways to warm up is to pop into a Swiss restaurant and order yourself some tartiflette. A delicious dish that was created close to the French-Swiss border in the same place that Reblochon cheese originated, Tartiflette is pure comfort food.
Tartiflette dates back to the 1980s when it was originally launched to push the sales of Reblochon cheese. Today it’s a super rich and satisfying dish that gives you all the energy you need to get back out onto the slopes. It tastes so good that there’s no need to promote it!
Made with thinly sliced potatoes, smoky bacon lardons, and sweet caramelized onions, all smothered with nutty, creamy Reblochon cheese, this dish is every bit as indulgent as it sounds.
Restaurant Le Flore in Geneva is one of the best places for tartiflette. Here the dish is topped with a fried egg, making it even richer and more satisfying!
25. Be Enchanted by Zurich’s Christmas Markets
If you’re planning to visit the country in the run-up to the holidays, you can’t miss the chance to explore Zurich’s magical Christmas markets. One of the very best things to do in Switzerland in December, the capital’s Christmas markets are so captivating, enchanting, and whimsical that they’re guaranteed to win over even the grumpiest Grinch!
At this time of year, the streets, the squares, and even the train station of the capital are covered in decorations and filled with Christmas market stalls. Wander through them, and you’ll discover all kinds of holiday treats to indulge in, from decorations and gifts to food and drinks.
For something you’ve never seen before, stop by the Christmas market at Werdmuhleplatz. Here you’ll see an amazing singing Christmas tree! But don’t let yourself be fooled. It’s actually a tree-shaped platform decorated with evergreen branches where rows of red-clad children sing festival carols.
There you have it! The 25 best things to do in Switzerland. What’s your favorite thing to do in Switzerland?
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